Calling Deion Sanders anything other than “coach” will get a reporter called out by Deion. Reporting one of the program’s recruits apparently can get a reporter barred from covering the team, at least temporarily.
Jackson State University allegedly prevented Rashad Milligan of the Clarion Ledger from covering Jackson State at the SWAC Media Day, one day after Milligan published a story regarding a domestic violence charge against receiver Quaydarius Davis, a four-star recruit from Dallas.
Milligan reported that Davis was expected to plead guilty to an assault charge. Attorney Henry Campbell disputed the report of the anticipated guilty plea after the story was published. The story went live after multiple attempts to contact Campbell had been unsuccessful.
“A Clarion Ledger reporter was punished for simply doing his job,” Clarion Ledger executive editor Marlon A. Walker said. “The decision to interfere with a working journalist not only is disappointing but also intolerable. . . . It runs counter to the Clarion Ledger’s unwavering mission to freely and fully inform readers throughout Mississippi. It is imperative to stand strong against any attempts to disrupt that effort.”
Sanders, according to the Clarion Ledger, did not want Milligan interviewing Jackson State players and coaches. A spokesperson for Jackson State University claims that Milligan has not been banned going forward. Milligan contends that he’d been told by a Jackson State spokesperson that publication of the Davis story in question could lead to removal of access.
Milligan claims that Jackson State director of internal football operations LaToya Williams had informed him that he could not interview players and coaches during the Media Day event. He also contends that he was barred from listening to and recording interviews conducted by other reporters.
This dynamic may help explain Deion’s decision to chastise a Clarion Ledger reporter for having the audacity to refer to Deion as Deion. Deion simply may have been looking to pick a fight with anyone from the Clarion Ledger on Tuesday. With Milligan muzzled, Deion had to focus his ire on a colleague who dared to call Deion by his given name.
As Jackson State tries to build a larger profile with the presence of Deion as its head coach, growing pains like this are inevitable. No sports program wants negative press. When it comes — and it inevitably does — lashing out and/or restricting access isn’t the way to handle it.
The sooner Deion learns that lesson, the sooner Deion will have the kind of relationship that he needs to have with the folks who buy their ink by the truckload.